It’s a high-percentage out.
That’s what Michigan coach Erik Bakich – and most baseball coaches – will say when asked about rundown situations. Two infielders and one baserunner don’t usually add up to a runner in scoring position.
But in the top of the eighth inning on Saturday, fifth-year senior outfielder Miles Lewis slipped past The Citadel’s infielders to take third base on an infield single from junior outfielder Christian Bullock. A few pitches later, sophomore catcher Joe Donovan sent them both home as he knocked a three-run blast off of Bulldog pitcher Jordan Buster.
It was just one of many things that went right for the 17th-ranked Wolverines (6-0) as they swept the Bulldogs (2-4) this weekend, winning 2-0 on Friday, 9-1 on Saturday and 6-3 on Sunday. After this weekend, Michigan is one of seven teams in the top 25 that is still undefeated two weeks into the season.
“We’re always happy to sweep,” Bakich said. “It’s hard to sweep, especially on the road against a good Citadel team like this that has an older pitching staff with speed and some weapons in their lineup. We had to play well to come out on top.”
Donovan had an especially productive weekend for the Wolverines. He notched five runs batted in over the course of the weekend. He also remained consistently solid defensively behind the plate, making several strong plays off pitches in the dirt. Friday, he caught a runner trying to steal second, and on Sunday, he ended the fifth inning by picking off a runner at third base.
Michigan’s pitching staff also continued to dominate throughout the series. Junior left-hander Tommy Henry pitched a complete game of one-hit baseball on Friday. He faced only the minimum 27 batters with a career-high of 13 strikeouts. Saturday, junior right-hander Karl Kauffman continued the trend, striking out nine and allowing only three hits over eight innings of work.
“What Tommy Henry and Karl Kauffmann did from the starting pitching standpoint really set the tone and gave us every opportunity to win the series,” Bakich said. “To get those types of performances from Tommy and Karl certainly sets a tone.”
Junior outfielder Jordan Brewer also contributed to Wolverines’ strong performance this weekend. On Friday, he stole two bases after reaching first on a single to center field. On Saturday, he had three hits, and on Sunday, he saved a run, throwing a baserunner out at home plate. Brewer has had a productive start to his first season at Michigan after transferring earlier this year from Lincoln Trail Community College in Robinson, Ill. So far this season, he has a batting average of .385 with five hits and four stolen bases over the four games he’s played (and started) in this season.
Before the first pitch on Friday, the Wolverines presented the Bulldogs with a plaque to honor their service to the military, as they do with all military academies they play.
“It’s a tough group of kids. We credit what these kids stand for and what they’re all about,” Bakich said. “At the end of the day, we have a lot of respect for them and their patriotism and their duty, and for those that do serve, we sincerely appreciate it.”